Jul 26, 2016 (LBO) – The Chinese government has requested for 15,000 acres of land in Hambantota for a special economic zone that will create around one million job in this area, the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade said Tuesday. “Apart from the Chinese Free Trade Agreement, Chinese officials are also in discussions with the Sri Lankan Government to secure 15,000 acres of land for a special investment zone. One million jobs we hope will created here,” Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade said. “The Sri Lankan Government is currently assessing potential land for the venture and we are thinking of land allocation up to Monaragala and even Embilipitiya for this as well.” A Chinese trade delegation will be in the island from the 9-10 August for discussions. The Chinese FTA will focus on apparel, tea, gems and jewellery, rubber, coconuts and spices as key industries, with plans to include a priority tariff line for competitive Sri Lankan products that would go into immediate effect on signing of the agreement. Also speaking at the press conference, Advisor for the Agency for International Trade K.
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J. Weerasinghe said that even though a special economic zone has been proposed in Hambantota, it will not be exclusive to Chinese investors.
Other countries including Japan, India and Singapore have expressed interest in starting ventures in this area, he said.
Meanwhile, the minister also said that a long awaited Nation Trade policy will also be rolled out and finalized by the end of August.
Speaking about the other FTA’s the Minister said that India is keen on pharmaceuticals and automobile parts while an invitation has been extended to the technical institutes from Singapore to set up in Sri Lanka to bridge the skills gap needed for workers.
“We are looking at inclusive development. The intention of the government with these trade agreements will be of getting the best possible deal for the country,” he stressed.